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This article was published 20/2/2016 (1741 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SUNRISE, Fla. — It’s history now every time he steps on the ice, but Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers, who celebrated his 44th birthday last Monday, is anything but window dressing.
Jagr scored his 741st and 742nd goal in Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets at BB&T Center to put him into sole possession of third place in all-time NHL goals, one ahead of Brett Hull.
Amazing enough, but Jagr becomes the first NHL player ever to "shoot" his age, by becoming the first to have 43 points at age 43 or older.
Jagr, who broke into the NHL in 1990, wasn’t doing interviews Saturday morning but lots of folks around the morning activities for the NHL game had plenty to say about the ageless wonder.
"I guess I’m not amazed what he does on the ice as far as his success this year because he works so hard and because of his mentality going into games," said Panthers centre Nick Bjugstad. "He’s so focused. A lot of us young guys are taking notes on what he does and how he goes about his daily life.
"Yeah, the guy, he’s unbelievable. It’s nice to have him on our squad. When he came here for the first game, we were all kind of in awe, us young guys, because most likely he was a lot of guys’ favourite player growing up.
"Being able to play with him is pretty special."
Jagr, acquired just before last year’s trade deadline, was Pittsburgh’s first pick, fifth overall of the 1990 draft.
More than two years later, Bjugstad was born.
Jagr turned 44 Monday but the age barrier just doesn’t seem to exist on the first-place Panthers.
"I guess I didn’t know him before he came here but his attitude here is always positive," Bjugstad said. "There are some days where he’s tired, which is understandable for a 44-year-old. But he’s always making us laugh and cracking jokes. His sense of humour is good to have around the locker-room.
"At the all-star game it was fun watching him. He was funny about it, but he was also honest about he felt about being in the all-star game. A guy is 44, that’s pretty incredible. He’s been playing so long. He probably deserved a little break, but it looked like he was having fun at the all-star game. He’s just a good guy to have in the locker-room and I’ll always cherish being able to be around him."
Jagr had 18 goals, tied for the team lead, and 41 points, the lead, for Florida heading into Saturday’s game.
"The first day of training camp, he says, ‘Coach, be patient with me, I’m a slow starter,’ " Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said Saturday morning. "Then 10 games into it I think he’s one of the top scorers on our team and close to the top of the league. So he’s been outstanding for us all year long."
Even his opponents on Saturday night had to admire the continuing story on Jagr.
"A great learning lesson," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "I remember when I was first in the league (1995) because he had been in there for a couple of years, how he could control the pucks. This is in the heyday of the clutching and grabbing and holding and you just couldn’t contain him.
"He was one of those rare players who wanted you to come to him, that wanted to get you on his back and off his hip and then he’d just separate from you and take it to the net.
"To play at the level he’s played at for so many years, it’s spectacular to watch."